Nonfiction Bonanza in July

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today writing as Kathy. It was just last month that I posted about trying to decide whether to create print-on-demand editions of two of my older nonfiction books, The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England 1485-1649 and How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries. Both have been available as e-books right along, but most folks who responded to that blog and to the same question on Facebook indicated that they really liked having a print copy to flip back and forth between sections, make notes in, and mark pages with Post-its.

You can read what I said here but the gist of it was that creating a POD nonfiction book, especially when the e-book already exists, isn’t all that hard except for two things. One is the fact that it needs an accurate index. Old page numbers from the original print version won’t match. The other is that nonfiction is arranged a bit differently than fiction—lots more boldfaced headings and subheads and the occasional graph or map. In the e-book editions, no index is necessary because the text is searchable. I’m not sure how maps and graphs came out in various formats (Kindle, Nook, and so on). To tell you the truth, I’m afraid to look at my current e-book editions because what soon became very obvious when I started putting together the print editions was that there were a lot of what I have to call “squirrely bits.” Some subheads came out larger than the headings and in a different font. Some indentations were . . . peculiar. Graphs? Forget it. Those didn’t translate at all. Spacing between sections was off, too.

This is how a couple of pages looked before fixing them

But I’m stubborn. Once I decided to launch this project, I was determined to figure out how to make it work. Obviously I wasn’t going to retype two entire manuscripts, but after some thought, I found workarounds. On the graphs, I simply translated the information into paragraphs of text.

I’m not a tech person. I assume there are commands in the doc file that I can’t see but I have no idea how to eliminate them. Instead, I used the “save as” function to save each manuscript in txt format. That takes out all the commands, including italics and differing font sizes. I could have then saved the entire txt file as a new doc file (yes, I still use doc rather than docx) and gone through the entire thing setting up the spacing and font sizes the way I wanted and trying to catch all those words (book titles, for example) that needed to be in italics. The original doc file wasn’t entirely squirrely, however, so instead, I cut and pasted from txt to doc only in the really screwed up places and then adjusted those to match the rest of the manuscript.

Same material after tweaking

I know. I’m sure there’s an easier way, but this wasn’t all that hard to do and, more importantly, it worked. All it required, since I use Draft2Digital to publish my print-on-demand titles, was to send the file, multiple times, to a template that creates the paginated interior of the book. Each time, I’d download the pdf of the interior and check to see what still needed fixing.

I’m retired. I have time to play with this stuff.

Once the interior was set up the way I wanted it, all that was left was creating the index. Using a pdf of the final version, the old print edition index (slightly improved) for topics, and the search function, I was able to fill in all the page numbers. This took under an hour for Everyday Life. After that it was just a matter of adding the index to the end of the final doc file and uploading one last replacement version to Draft2Digital.

I have no doubt that a typo or two still remains. And maybe an extra space here or there. I know a few of the indents are still off because the template is set up for fiction and insists on starting the first paragraph of anything it perceives as a chapter at the margin instead of indenting it. That strikes me as a minor problem not worth obsessing about. All in all, both books look pretty good, and if a reader should spot a serious error, I can still go in and fix it. It’s not like there’s going to be a huge print run out in the world with a major error in every copy.

So, that’s where things stand. The print-on-demand trade paperback of How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries was released on June 30. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England is available for pre-order and its release date is July 19. Each is priced at $15.99.

For those who are curious, using Draft2Digital as printer and distributor to all the major booksellers and libraries, I earn $2.86 for each sale of How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and $2.44 for each sale of The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England. The 6% standard for the author’s cut of a traditionally published paperback would have been $.96. Hardcover royalties are 10%, which would be $1.60. I can also purchase author copies to sell direct to readers. The cost for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries is $4.31 each and each copy of The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England costs me $4.76. Yes, I make a bigger profit if I sell them myself, but the return on sales through D2D is nothing to sneeze at. Will I sell thousands of copies? No. Hundreds? Unlikely. But the books will be available, and all it cost to get them out there was a little of my time and my husband’s help creating covers (with artwork I already had) using the free tools found at

Now back to reissuing my backlist fiction, a much simpler process!

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. In 2023 she won the Lea Wait Award for “excellence and achievement” as a Maine writer from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She is currently working on creating new omnibus e-book editions of her backlist titles. She maintains websites at and


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5 Responses to Nonfiction Bonanza in July

  1. Cathy L Counts says:

    Thanks, Kathy, for explaining that process you’ve had to go through to make your books available as Print On Demand. Phew! Hard work! But you seem at least satisfied with the result. Best wishes on good returns and happy comments.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thank you Cathy. Not so much hard as challenging. If I were more tech savvy, it would probably be much easier. As it is, I look at it as trying to prove I’m still smarter than a computer-generated template!

  2. kaitcarson says:

    Hard work, but it looks like you have it handled!

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thanks Kait. My working theory is that if I put a book out there it may or may not sell, but if I don’t, it never will. Still, it’s a good thing I no longer have to make my living as a writer!

  3. Pingback: Writer’s Guide POD | Maine Crime Writers

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